Bread Givers Literary Elements

Bread Givers Literary Elements


Coming of age story

Setting and Context

The story is set in the beginning of the 20th century in New York City.

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator of the story is 10 year old Sara and she presents the events from a subjective point of view.

Tone and Mood

Tragic, sad, frustrating

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Sara and the antagonist is her father, Reb.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between Sara and her father, Reb who fails to fulfill his role as a father.


The story reaches its climax when Sara is disowned by her father and when she finds that her mother has died.


The end of the novel, when Sara agrees to take care of her father is foreshadowed by Mrs. Smolinsky when she asks Sara to take care of Reb after her death.


When Reb says that women are unable to be learned is an understatement as Sara goes on to become a teacher and pursue a career in teaching.


There are allusions made towards the idea that Jews in general were treated badly in America during the beginning of the 20th century. Many had biased ideas about Jews and were not quick to accept them so the Jews had to face discrimination and isolation from their fellow Americans. Sara had to endure such treatment when she was isolated by her peers while at collage despite her efforts to become friends with them.


The image of Reb in the gutter and the way Reb is portrayed in general towards the end of the novel is important because it contrasts with the way he was portrayed in the beginning. if in the first chapters Reb was someone able to influence his family members, towards the end he became powerless and weak, needing to be taken care of by other people around him.




A parallel can be drawn between Sara and her father, Reb. Despite wanting to be everything her father wasn’t, Sara inherited Reb’s love for knowledge and she was the only girl who pursued a higher education. Sara expressed her desire to learn more and she made everything she could to achieve her dreams. The only difference between Sara and Reb is that while Reb waited idly for his dreams to come true, Sara actively tried to make them happen.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

When Reb refers to the Torah, he usually refers to it in a metonymical sense because he actually refers to other sacred texts as well.


In chapter ten, when Sara says ‘’ This door was life. It was air ’’ while making reference to the door of her new room.

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